Albert Medal

The Albert Medal was first instituted by Royal Warrant in 1866. The rationale was to acknowledge those “heroic actions performed by mariners and others to prevent such loss [of lives at sea] and to save lives the lives of those who are in danger of perishing by reason of wrecks and perils of the sea…”

 

This medal was first instituted by Royal Warrant in 1866. The rationale was to acknowledge those “heroic actions performed by mariners and others to prevent such loss [of lives at sea] and to save lives the lives of those who are in danger of perishing by reason of wrecks and perils of the sea…”[1] The medal was divided into first and second classes. The second class medal was made entirely out of bronze and had a different ribbon to the first-class medal which was from 1904 a dark blue 1 3/8-inch ribbon with two white stripes.

Up until 1891 the medal was only awarded to civilian mariners but in that year this was amended to include those serving with the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines. This as followed by a new warrant issued in 1905 that updated the medals and made provision that both medals would have the same ribbon and would be known as:

First Class Medals – The Albert Medal in Gold

Second Class Medals – The Albert Medal[2]

The criterion for awarding the medal has always been very high and that the “recipient’s risk of death had to be greater than his chances of survival…”[3] 24 bronze Albert Medals were awarded to the Royal Navy during the Second World War.

Stoker First Class William Dale RNZNVR was awarded his medal for rescuing dockyard workers after an explosion aboard HMNZS Achilles at Portsmouth Dockyard 22 June 1943. Dale is described as having “cold courage…regardless of [his] own safety went below and worked to the limit of his endurance.”[4] He descended through three smoke-filled decks without the aid of breathing apparatus, passed up four injured men and then after a brief pause, went to the seat of the explosion at the fuel tank and rescued a further two men with the assistance of a dockyard worker.[5] What is interesting here is that the rescues were not undertaken at sea but when the vessel was being refitted.

[1] P.E. Abbott and J.M.A. Tamplin, British Gallantry Awards, London: Guinness Superlatives/B.A. Seaby, 1971, p.47.

[2] ibid., pp. 49-51.

[3] ibid., p. 51.

[4] S.D. Waters, The Royal New Zealand Navy: Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War 1939-45, Wellington: War History Branch Department of Internal Affairs, 1956, p. 363.

[5] ibid., pp. 362-363.